Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"The Forever Family" on ABC 20-20 presents the rehoming of disabled adopted children



ABC “20-20” on Friday night, with Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir, presented “The Forever Family”, a story about the practice of “rehoming” adopted children who had been disabled (sometimes from overseas) and presented uncontrollable behavior problems for adoptive parents. The link for viewing (must log on to a cable provider) is here.

Specifically, the episode told the story of Arkansas State representative Justin Harris and wife Marsha, evangelical Christians south of Fayetteville AR, who had three sons of their own, and then built onto their house to adopt children, which they felt was a morally driven (and personally risky and costly) mission from God.

 Against the best wisdom of adoption agencies, they adopted three sisters from a troubled background. The oldest presented severe problems and was removed, but the couple still tried to keep the two younger kids, moving their own sons into their own bedroom.  They even put monitors on the girls’ rooms.  But they got into a legal bind where they could not give up the kids without being prosecuted, but used a legal loophole to “rehome” the kids to someone who stepped up.  Later there were reports that the girls wuld be sexually abused.

The girls had been diagnosed with RAD, or "reactive attachment disorder". In recent years, a few states have passed laws against "rehoming" but the practice was technically legal at the time it was used as described in this episode.
 


The episode presented adoption specialist Jan Wallis and foster parents Craig and Cheryl Hart.

Wikipedia attribution link for image by Brandon Rush from Fayetteville, AR, under Creative Commons 3.0 share-alike license.  I was in the area several times between 1979 and 1987.

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